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Sweet Smells, Sweet Memories

Spring is filled with so many scents!  It’s the beginning a of sensory overload. Last week, I was walking up to the house, deep in thought as a northerly wind was blowing… I had been contemplating the unfortunate timing of having just planted seeds right before the big lightning and thunderstorm, which brought on lots of rain. Everything is well watered now!  

Our soil is a “heavier” soil, with a little clay, which has incredible advantages, but also disadvantages. It holds water well and requires less irrigation than “sandier” soils. It also warms up later but doesn’t dry up as fast either. With that said, a big disadvantage of “heavier” soils is that in the spring, when the weather finally is about right and the ground is ready to plant, a really good gully washer like last week can undue all of the spring prep work causing you to have to re-till for optimum planting ground.  

When a storm like last week’s rolls through, it’s usually followed by a warm stretch and the newly soaked fields can become baked like clay in a kiln. If the fields haven’t been planted, we can get to work on the fields again, but when you have planted seeds, it gets more complicated. We planted beans, beets and more peas. Those seeds should still germinate, but they are going to have to expend a lot of energy to break through the crust.   

We will cultivate the rows and gently break up the surface around the seed, but for the most part the seed must do the hard work of breaking through!  

While I was deep in thought, and passing through the flower garden, the pleasant smell of a flower brought memories from 1994, when our garden was 32 square feet. It was the same dimension as a sheet of plywood. But that year, I sold my very first crop – lilac blossoms.  On my way up to the house, I was immediately transported back in time 26 years ago.   

Memories are powerful; farming was a mere thought and certainly not feasible on our small city lot. It was during that time that I met my first organic farmers, as they delivered fresh produce and flowers from the Willamette Valley to where I was working in Vancouver. I knew at that moment, meeting those farmers, I would be a farmer one day, too. That spring lilacs bloomed on our small urban lot next to our little garden.  The farming seed germinated, and I asked the market manager if she thought anyone would be interested in purchasing our lilacs.  She brought them into the market and was happy to provide the beautiful flowers for customers to purchase! And that farming seed grew!    

And for the last 26 years there have been lilacs on our farm and every spring when the wind blows from the north and I walk by the lilac tree, I’m reminded about those first meetings with organic farmers and how a few cut blossoms have changed our life. 

-Tristan and Joelle 

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